Preparing for a Blackwater System. Thought welcome! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Preparing for a Blackwater System. Thought welcome!

I have been keeping fish for roughly 25 years, but have focused on saltwater reef systems for the 10-15 years. Recently, I have started looking into trying something new and came across blackwater systems, so I am looking into, and preparing, to start up a blackwater amazon system. The plan so far is as follows:

120g 60"x18" aquarium
2 x Fluval 306/406 w/spraybars
2 x Emperor Penguin 400B HOB filters
Indian almond leaves
Thin layer of sand
Spider and/or manzanita driftwood
a few stones/rocks
Fluval 406's will be primarily for biological media
Bio-wheel filters for peat and other chemical filtration (as needed)

Stocking: (still working on a complete list)
Angels
Cardinal tetras
Silver Dollars (maybe)
Rosbaras
Cory Cats

Any other suggestions or ideas would be welcomed. I had also considered making this bare bottom and doing a blackwater Discus tank, but that seems like a lot to take on (since I have never done blackwater or Discus). I would love to have a nice school of Discus some day!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 04:30 PM
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You don't mention plants, but one assumes there will be some since you're posting in this forum. Silver Dollars will eat all of them, immediately. All kinds.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 05:18 PM
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The only plants I use in my blackwater setup are floating plants- Amazon Frogbit and Dwarf Water Lettuce. I do this to keep shadowed parts of the tank, give fry a place (and chance) to survive, and it keeps my Nitrates at zero (0).

If you are interested you can take a look at my 29 gallon blackwater setup- link for it is in my signature. I have had it set up a few months and absolutely love it!
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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The tank is on its way! I ended up ordering a Waterbox 230.6. It should be here by the end of the week. I have almost everything I need to get it up and running. Making this tank my first Blackwater system will be a challenge, but I am really excited take it on. I will start a tank journal once the tank arrives.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 08:16 AM
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I like hatchet fish for very top swimmers and in a 120 you can have a nice shoal.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 03:40 PM
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I like a few more plants in my blackwater tank. I have a couple of swords, Ludwigia, and some crypts along with floaters.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 08:52 PM
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Blackwater tanks are a lot of fun!
I like your stocking ideas, except the silver dollars. Silver dollars will devour plants, and eventually get large enough to devour any of your schooling fish.
I would recommend a few low light plants for the amazonesque aesthetic. Some Anubias or crypts, maybe a big tiger lotus right in the center? Lots of options, and all them cool.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 02:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpsouth1978 View Post
The tank is on its way! I ended up ordering a Waterbox 230.6. It should be here by the end of the week. I have almost everything I need to get it up and running. Making this tank my first Blackwater system will be a challenge, but I am really excited take it on. I will start a tank journal once the tank arrives.
Wow, you have been in salt realm a long time. Most peoples blackwater setup is a tank and couple small powerheads and a aquaclear.

Your going to need way less water flow than you think, probably only thing you'll need in sump is a med sized pump, a coarse pond filter foam and some peat pellets in a bag.

At the lower PH level and tannic nature of the water a nice finer sand gravel bed, max 2" thick and and all the drift wood is your bio filter and its very effective in these type setup.

A interesting and completely South American appropriate plant you might look at is ludwigia sedioides, floating crowns that look like little mosaics, crowns break water, get all CO2 they need from air. Float right under lights so a couple of low power LED like cheap nicrew strips would be all you need. Its mainly used as a pond plant but works really well in these type setups. the floating crowns throw shade for fish below, have very high metabolism and are good filtering plants because of the immersed nature of crown.

South Amer. blackwater environments is it's home turf.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 04:34 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, you have been in salt realm a long time. Most peoples blackwater setup is a tank and couple small powerheads and a aquaclear.

Your going to need way less water flow than you think, probably only thing you'll need in sump is a med sized pump, a coarse pond filter foam and some peat pellets in a bag.

Well then... I may have gone a little overboard on the gear for this setup.

I actually purchased gear with the thought that if I decide to go back to saltwater, I won't have to buy everything again. I will obviously have the filter socks, and I ordered a 7" filter media cup, that I plan on putting peat in. My return pump is a, not so small, Jebao DCP 13000.


At the lower PH level and tannic nature of the water a nice finer sand gravel bed, max 2" thick and and all the drift wood is your bio filter and its very effective in these type setup.

I will have 100 pounds of pool filter sand and a number of manzanita branches along with 2 large marinepure bricks.

A interesting and completely South American appropriate plant you might look at is ludwigia sedioides, floating crowns that look like little mosaics, crowns break water, get all CO2 they need from air. Float right under lights so a couple of low power LED like cheap nicrew strips would be all you need. Its mainly used as a pond plant but works really well in these type setups. the floating crowns throw shade for fish below, have very high metabolism and are good filtering plants because of the immersed nature of crown.

South Amer. blackwater environments is it's home turf.
I have not decided on plants yet, I know there will not be many, mostly just driftwood, a few rocks, and leaf litter. I may throw in a few amazon swords and some floating plants.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 08:51 PM
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Well hopefully you’ll find you like the tranquility of this type of setup compared to the hustle and bustle of most tropical reef tanks.

Another reason I like that Ludwigia I posted above is that even though it’s a floater is that it comes with a built in tethering line (stem) so it stays put where you place it, shading just areas you want. Then in open unshaded areas you can place your swords where their always well lit and highlighted.

If your considering cardinals you should also think of adding some green neons. They are slightly smaller than cardinals and tend to actually school more. The slight more turquoise blue glitter they throw off is a good contrast to richer blues and reds of cardinals. Great pairing with cardinals

Last edited by DaveKS; 04-06-2019 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2019, 07:56 PM
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I would also consider adding some dwarf cichlids. Checkerboards are my favorites but apistos are excellent also.

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